Alphonso's Jaw (Beauty And The Silver Mask) is a short, experimental film-poem by Scottish duo, Avant Kinema (Sarahjane Swan & Roger Simian), based on their 2016 installation, Alphonso's Jaw.
AVANT KINEMA say:
In 2016 we created an immersive, multi-format installation for Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, called Alphonso's Jaw. The installation, and our subsequent short film, were inspired by our facination for two objects we discovered amongst Edinburgh University's Anatomy Collection: (1) the cast of a disfigured face; (2) a prosthetic jaw constructed on an early nineteenth century battlefield.
Through some research we unearthed the story of Alphonse Luis, a young French gunner struck by shrapnel at the Siege of Antwerp, 1832. Having suffered horrific facial injuries, losing his lower face, Alphonse's quality of life was eventually improved when the Surgeon-Major and a local Belgian artist collaborated on the construction of a silver prosthetic jaw, painted in flesh tones and adorned with whiskers.
We uncovered historical accounts of Alphonse Luis' injury, surgery, recuperation and rehabilitation in medical journals of the day, and drew on these for an exploration of identity, disfigurement and reconstruction.
In Alphonso's Jaw we imagine that Alphonse Luis has become dislocated from history to exist outside of any specific time or place, trapped in eternal convalescence, soothed by the dreams of his Battlefield Muse, who is equal parts Night Nurse, Scheherazade and Beauty from Beauty and the Beast. Luis' Battlefield Muse is, in turn, both horrified and fascinated by her patient.
As well as multiple video projections, music and sculptural elements - which included dislocated white hands thrusting from walls clutching crimson rose buds; numerous handcrafted prosthetic legs; and an American army stretcher haunted by WWI shell-shock victims - our installation included the poem, "Beauty and the Silver Mask", which you can read on our blog here: